Pinchas Zukerman / Vladimir Ashkenazy

Mozart: Violin Concerto; Richard Strauss: Symphonia Domestica

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Mozart and Strauss would seem to be unlikely companions for a CD, especially such divergent genres as a violin concerto (Mozart's K. 219) and a symphony (Strauss' Symphonia Domestica). Indeed, these two compositions share little in common. The unifying point for the Audite album is conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy, who claims a passion for both of these composers. Ashkenazy approaches both works on the program with an equal balance of intellectual acumen and emotional enlightenment. The result for listeners is a performance -- particularly of the Strauss -- which allows the score to speak for itself without the conductor attempting to place undue importance on any programmatic after-thoughts. The DSO Berlin responds to Ashkenazy's leadership with close attention to articulation, balance, and intonation. The one mismatched component on the album, surprisingly, is violinist Pinchas Zukerman and his performance of the Mozart A major Concerto. While Ashkenazy's interpretation is very supple and elegant, Zukerman plays with a great deal of force and pressure. The live recording lets listeners hear (unfortunately) a great deal of production noise from his instrument as he unnecessarily strains to be heard over the orchestra, which does a splendid job of keeping the tone quiet during solo passages. Despite many successful collaborations in the past, this particular pairing of Ashkenazy and Zukerman is not as satisfying as it could be. Ashkenazy's Strauss, however, is comprehensive and thoroughly enjoyable.

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